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Learning Outcomes for Personal Development

Level 1 - The doctor as a professional

Level 2 - Outcomes for Personal Developmentlink to Tomorrows doctorslink to Tomorrows doctorslink to Tomorrows doctorslink to Tomorrows doctorslink to Tomorrows doctors

Personal development within the context of undergraduate medical education is a complex issue. The underlying personality of the individual graduate and his/her life experiences outwith the university have a major influence on personal development, as do experiences relating specifically to their training. Personal development is, of course, an ongoing, life-long process but it is possible to identify a number of important outcomes for the undergraduate period.

Level 3

This could include: Level 4

Self-awarenesslink to Tomorrows doctorslink to Tomorrows doctorslink to Tomorrows doctors

The ability to conduct oneself as a reflective and accountable practitioner including seeking out sources of informed criticism and valuing, reflecting and responding to them appropriately.

Enquiring into own competence and evaluating own capabilities and personal effectiveness

Self-learnerlink to Tomorrows doctorslink to Tomorrows doctorslink to Tomorrows doctors

The ability to manage own learning as demonstrated by:
searching out and selecting appropriate learning resources of all types
making use of all available technical aids
employing appropriate and effective study skills
recognising limitations of current personal understanding and capabilities and identifying areas needing refreshed or extended
setting realistic and appropriate personal learning goals
selecting learning strategies that take account of personal learning preferences and that are likely to succeed
setting challenging personal learning goals as a basis for personal growth

Self-carelink to Tomorrows doctors

Recognition of the pressures of a demanding professional life on health, well-being and relationships with others and the need to maintain a balance between personal, professional and social goals and activities.

Evidence of attention to lifestyle, diet, exercise and relaxation.

Making use of available help and advice in stressful circumstances.

Recognition of the hazards of self-medication or substance abuse in dealing with stress.

Career choicelink to Tomorrows doctors

Identify short and long-term career and personal plans and aspirations and work towards these by establishing realistic development plans involving relevant activities.

Participate fully in the life of the professional community and make use of professional and other networks of all types.

Motivationlink to Tomorrows doctors

Recognising key personal motivating factors and their importance in sustaining a high level of motivation.

Commitmentlink to Tomorrows doctors

Demonstrating dedication to oneís chosen career pathway through adherence to the codes of conduct and behaviour expected of undergraduate medical students and doctors and an acceptance of any limitations that might be associated with them.

Specific Issues

Recommended methods of assessment include:
IT and Library based assignments
Tutor assessments
Reflective videos
CV preparation and review
Records of achievement
Project work

Potential new methods of assessment are:
Mentoring / Appraisal
Medical (health) review

There are some areas within this outcome which should not be assessed, either because they are un-assessable in a meaningful way or because they are out-with the undergraduate curriculum. Other topics may only be amenable to formative assessment, at least in the earlier undergraduate years, such that the assessment per se is part of the educational process. This is particularly the case with for example, team working skills, self-awareness, presentation skills and attitudes. In some cases formative assessment alone may be sufficient, which does not necessarily exclude a permanent record being maintained in a portfolio and the student having the opportunity to refer to and reflect on the assessment.

Modes of assessment for this outcome common to several schools already include:

  • in-course assignments, peer assessment and projects to assess research, self-learning and team-working skills

  • reflective essays, learning needs assessments, writing curriculum vitae to assess self-awareness and insights relevant to career choice

Three fairly new assessment methods have been recommended for this outcome:

  1. Tracked assessment of personal and professional development based on tutorsí attachment assessments, peer and tutorsí assessments of team-work or contribution to product, and specific skills assessments e.g. oral presentations. If necessary these assessments could inform the Fitness to Practise procedures

  2. Portfolio case studies and reflective writing. These have the potential to assess the studentís understanding of some of the multi-faceted aspects of medical practice e.g. multi-disciplinary working, ethical decision making, resource management, the role of self-directed learning and research and the interplay between clinical experiences and personal health, relationships and career choice.

  3. Educational mentoring, based on regular meetings with a tutor who will aim to assist the studentís personal and professional development through motivational appraisal. The student might bring some of the following personal information to the appraisal: the CV, academic record, feedback from tutors, peers, self and patients on academic work and personal and professional development, personal plans, learning needs assessments and critical incident analyses.

Research into the validity and reliability of the tools listed above is required. Although there is information for some of the more established tools e.g. MCQ, MEQ and OSCEs this may not be applicable in the context of this outcome. Further work is required to evaluate them.

Assessment of many of the fourth level outcomes will be applied in an integrated fashion i.e. professional conduct and motivation can only be assessed within the context of observed clinical or project work and not alone. Many of the outcomes will be assessed together e.g. lateness at clinics may be a marker for poor motivation and/or poor organisational skills.

Compensation should no longer be permitted between academic content and personal/professional development to prevent information on studentsí suitability for medical practice being Ďlostí within assessment of academic ability. Separate tracking of personal and professional development is suggested to allow concerns about a studentís professional qualities to be identified and acted upon quickly to benefit students, patients and the profession.

Assessment methods and tools must be selected which will motivate medical students to adopt attitudes, skills and knowledge for professional practice and not merely for examinations. In particular we need to encourage specific strategies in medical students e.g. reflective practice, deep learning and skills in teamworking. Research on the effect of assessment on studentsí personal and professional development will be very important in the new medical curricula.

These recommendations on continuous assessment, portfolios and educational mentoring are all tempered by the recognition that each requires significant resources. Staff development is necessary to ensure that teachers understand the purpose of these systems and how to make objective and fair assessments and give feedback.

These modes of assessment also require tutors to find more time to gather information about students on attachment and offer feedback on their performance; mark several pieces of written work for the portfolio, often including reflective writing where the tutor needs to be familiar with the whole portfolio; and to offer appraisal and mentoring to a few students perhaps twice in the academic year. These concerns about tutorsí time emphasise the need to introduce these modes of assessment cautiously and enquiringly and to review the acceptability by both staff and students as part of the evaluation.